About 49 years and one month ago, when I was about to turn eight years old, I was vacationing with my family as we visited relatives in the Houston suburb of Alvin. While there, we drove down to Galveston for a day at the beach, my first experience of the ocean at an age when I was able to form memories. I can clearly recall being impressed by my father diving into the surf. There are several other memories that stick with me from that late summer of 1959, but none moreso than sleeping on a cot upstairs in a fire station in Alvin during the night on which Hurricane Debra made landfall. The next day there were trees down all over the neighborhood, which an eight-year old boy, in typical fashion, thinks is pretty cool. The middle-aged man knows there's nothing "cool" about hurricanes (having endured Andrew in Baton Rouge in 1993). My heart is with those who suffer in the wake of Ike and Gustav and Hanna.
My time in North Carolina was quite interesting. It was a part of the country I had never visited before, and I always enjoy being near the sea. I will probably not say much about the substance of the Brazil Bi-Lateral Committe's work in this forum. It's difficult--well, impossible, actually--to be both an objective reporter and an honest evaluator of work in which one is involved personally. Suffice it to say that I was delighted to meet the "movers and shakers" of Brazilian Anglicanism, to make new friends, and to hear of the exciting missionary challenges that they face.
While I was away, something very bizarre happened to me. My g-mail account was maliciously hacked, and a Nigerian fund-raising scam (or what appeared to be such, at any rate) sent out, not to everyone in my address book, but just to some, and thereafter as a reply to any incoming mail. After a long bit of investigation, with help from people who are technically much savvier than I am, it seems crystal clear that this was no mere "phishing" expedition. It was not done robotically. Somebody targeted me specifically, discovered my password, and basically took over my g-mail account, changing some key settings. I have since taken it back (with a new and better-quality password, you can believe), but it is unnerving, to say the least, to think that someone a) could and b) would do such a thing.
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church meets in Salt Lake City this week. The Presiding Bishop's office today released materials confirming that her plan is to put the question of deposing the Bishop of Pittsburgh before the House, using (abusing, actually) the canon designed for cases when a bishop leaves TEC for another faith community not in communion with "this church." This is not the place to rehash all the details. I have nothing original to contribute. But it bears noting yet again that the fact that she would even attempt such a thing, to say nothing of the fact that she will probably get away with it, is just one more corroboration that it is raw political power, and not the rule of law, that drives events in the Episcopal Church. She is covering herself, and all Episcopalians, with shame.
In the midst of all the silliness, it is a tremendous blessing to have the down-to-earthiness of parish ministry. Somebody has to care about all the crap that I care about, and it has fallen on me, among many others, to do so. It's important. But the good people whom I attempt to serve as a pastor have things to care about that are at the same time much more mundane and much more sublime than these other things. It is for my own soul's health, to say the very least, that I try to stand with them in putting flesh on the bones of gospel witness in Kosciusko County, Indiana.